As your Primary Care Physician, providing preventive services is a top priority. The United States Preventive Task Force (USPSTF) states that: " The benefits of incorporating prevention into medical practice have become increasingly apparent over the past 30-40 years, as previously common and debilitating conditions have declined in incident following the introduction of effective clinical preventive services."
The periodic health visits are an important opportunity for providing preventive services. Through your responses to key questions, findings on physical examinations, and screenings, your risk for many preventable conditions is assessed. Based on this information you will be counseled, referred or treated accordingly. We adhere to the guidelines of the USPSTF which emphasizes the use of preventive services that have been proven effective in properly conducted studies.
Here are answers to some common questions:
1. Can the preventive exam be done when I come with a specific problem?
This depends on the nature of the complaint. Acute pain or illness often requires an urgent visit; extra time is allotted for the preventive exam and therefore these visits are not scheduled urgently. In addition; if you are ill you may not be up to discussing prevention. On the other hand the preventive exam is the ideal time to discuss miscellaneous, chronic or mild health concerns you might have.
2. I feel well, why go looking for problems?
Screening, by definition, identifies serious conditions at an early, treatable stage. The USPSTF guidelines offer a very rational approach; we are flexible and tailor the evaluations to the patient’s potential risks as well as to an individual’s attitude toward health maintenance.
3. How often do I need a preventive exam?
Ideally your first visit to a new Primary Care Physician should be for a complete physical exam. Then, in the event that you become ill, you will have a physician familiar with your health profile. As this is not always possible, it is advisable to schedule a preventive exam as soon as your acute health problem has been resolved. Subsequently, a healthy person can schedule complete exams every two years until age 50 and annually thereafter.
4. Does insurance cover my preventive exam?
Many policies will cover this exam. For example, every Oxford plan pays for the annual physical. However other insurance companies offer multiple plans with varying benefits. It is your responsibility to call your insurance carrier and ask if the annual physical exam is a covered benefit under your plan. Medicare, unfortunately, does not cover preventive exams. If you are not covered, we offer reasonable fees. Call us and we will be happy to discuss our policy with you.
Providing the best possible healthcare is our goal. I hope this information will be helpful to you. Remember, there is no substitute for the comprehensive wellness exam.